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Martina Navratilova slams Ukranian tennis player over homophobic remarks

Martina Navratilova slams Ukranian tennis player over homophobic remarks

Martina Navratilova and Sergiy Stakhovsky

Czech-American tennis player Martina Navratilova has criticized Ukrainian player Sergiy Stakhovsky following an interview in which he made homophobic comments.

Stakhovsky, 29, is best known for knocking Roger Federer out of Wimbledon in a surprise defeat in 2013.

As we reported last week, in an interview with the Ukranian Xsport website on Wednesday 8 July last week, he said there are ‘definitely no gays’ in tennis, but ‘almost every other’ female tennis player is a lesbian.

‘Can you imagine – half of them,’ he said, according to a translation by letsecondserve.com. ‘So I for sure won’t send my daughter to play tennis.’

The World Number 49 was asked if there were any ‘sexual minorities’ in tennis, to which he replied: ‘I think not.

‘You see, on the ATP we have a normal atmosphere.’

He then took a shot at Martina Navratilova, the nine-times Wimbledon champion who earlier this year said she couldn’t believe that no male tennis players are gay.

‘She can think that in the women’s locker room,’ he said.

‘She has no clue at all what men’s tennis is. And she’s has nothing to do with it.’

On Twitter Navratilova, who came out as a lesbian in the 1980s, hit back at Stakhovsky.

She wrote: ‘did you really say this Sergiy? that you don’t want your daughter to play tennis because she might turn into a lesbian ? That is how it was translated…’

He replied: ‘I don’t want my daughter to play professional tennis from many various reasons . and to be DEADLY HONEST I ever thought of it in that way.

‘Meaning it’s the least worrying case for me.’

Navratilova wrote back: ‘what you said was homophobic- perhaps we can speak sometime in the future- thank you.’

Stakhovsky wrote: ‘we of course can and with pleasure’, to which Navratilova replied: ‘it’s a date:)’

The two may be attempting to reconcile their differences, but Stakhovsky’s anti-gay remarks have also been condemned by tennis authorities and fellow players.

Women’s Tennis Authority chairman and chief executive Stacey Allaster said: ‘It’s sad to think in this day and age there are people who are narrow minded and speak derisively about women based on sexual orientation. It’s a sad reflection of old thinking and I’m proud of all our WTA players who are forward thinking, treat everyone equal and reflect life in the 21st century.’

Former men’s tour star James Blake, an American who campaigns for the pro-inclusion group Athlete Ally, said: ‘As a former ATP player and father of two amazing daughters, I would be thrilled if they followed in the footsteps of inspirational greats like Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King.

‘Stakhovsky’s comments are out of line, out of touch, and stand in opposition to the values that tennis taught me. And Stakhovsky is kidding himself if he believes there are no gay tennis players in the (men’s) top 100. I hope that if any players inside or outside the top 100 decide to come out, they will be welcomed and supported.’